Sunday, July 8, 2012

Exploring the River Boyne

One of the carved "kerb stones" at Knowth passage tomb.
We had a great day in the Boyne River valley today.  Our first stop (after breakfast at McDonald's in Drogheda if you can believe it...there's not a lot of option early Sunday morning!!) was Bru na Bionne Visitors Centre which is a wonderful museum and the access for New Grange and Knowth (rhymes with "south") neolithic passage tombs.  Both New Grange and Knowth have much to recommend, and we were very glad to have had the time to explore both plus the museum.

In the passage at Knowth, this picture was taken with the flash on.  The Knowth passages are
designed for the spring and fall equinoxes--i.e. on an east/west axis, they're aligned with the sunrise
March 21 and Sept 21.
Same passage at Knowth, no flash, just the ambient electric lights.
Some of the decorated "kerb" stones that encircle the large mound at Knowth.

The archeologist who explored this site in the 20th C. felt that these quartz stones would have
been scattered in front of the passage entrances along with the dark granite, unlike the archeologist
who excavated New Grange (see below) who felt that the quartz and granite were originally
a wall surrounding the entrance.
We were allowed to climb to the top of the Knowth mound, and this is the view towards
New Grange (that golden mound in the mid-ground).
New Grange--the entrance to the winter solstice passage, surrounded by a reconstructed
quartz and granite wall.
Lloyd "minding his head" upon exiting the passage.  In front is the very famous entrance
stone with the carved spirals.
After a pleasant lunch in the visitor centre cafe, we drove about 10 km to the Battle of the Boyne historic site.  This was a great review of this pivotal point in Irish history--in 1690, William of Orange (Protestant) fought his father-in-law (and uncle) James II (Catholic) on Irish soil, and decisively won the throne of the British Isles.
We were treated to a black powder demonstration--very loud!
We are now in the medieval town of Trim and could be here for a couple of nights.  We're staying at the Bridge House Hostel which is a couple of converted houses right next to the bridge over the River Boyne.  Indeed one of the houses is under the bridge and the common lounge on the lower floor is one of the bridge arches.  So far it seems very clean and we're sharing the space with some American archeology students here on a field school experience, working on a dig at a medieval abbey.

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